Prosecution asks to use pages, photos

By joe gorman


Prosecutors are asking for permission to use photographs posted on social media websites and pages on those sites as evidence in a gang case.

Assistant Prosecutor Martin Desmond filed the motion Tuesday in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court asking Judge Maureen Sweeney to allow the admission of the photographs in the Vic Boys case.

In August, prosecutors charged 11 men and one woman as being a part of the East Side gang, with charges ranging from trafficking in drugs, engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, belonging to a gang and being felons in possession of guns.

Several of the defendants asked for the charges to be dismissed last week, but Judge Sweeney denied those motions.

She did, however, agree Tuesday to postpone the cases, which were set for trial next week,

In his motion, Desmond said police investigating the case managed to get the photos off the Internet, and they know whom they depict and what kind of gang-related activities, codes or dress the defendants are taking part in.

Desmond wrote that the 9th District Court of Appeals at the state level ruled last year that social media photos can be used if there is evidence to support the picture is an accurate representation of the person or activity that is being shown. That ruling arose out of a case in which a man was convicted of taking part in gang activity in part based on photos of him on a My Space page and on other people’s My Space pages that showed him with gang members. Police testified they knew who was in the pictures because of their investigation.

The court ruled because the officers in the case dealt with the people in the photographs on a personal basis, prosecutors were allowed to place them into evidence.

Police say they first began investigating the gang in 2012 after several gang members were either victims or suspects in shootings across the East Side. The gang’s base of operations is reputed to be around the Victory Homes housing project.

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